Friday, 21 October 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games [audiobook]

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Narrated by Carolyn McCormick

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

Category: Dystopian YA

Challenges: R.I.P. VI Challenge

Synopsis: 16 year old Katniss Everdeen lives in District 12, Panem. Every year each of the 12 districts have to send two tributes to the Capital to take part in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a fight to death for the entertainment of the inhabitants of Capital. At the annual Reaping Katniss younger sister’s name is called. Katniss, who has done everything in her power to limit Prim’s chance of being called, volunteers to go in her stead. The other Tribute from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a young boy who has loved Katniss for many years. And so begins the 74th Hunger Games.

My Thoughts: Oh. My. God. Why did I wait so bloody long to “read” this book?????!!!!!!! It is awesome!!! I’ve been listening to it every chance I’ve gotten over the last few days. Stupid work coming between me and my listening!

This book is so perfectly balanced between the scary-monsters, scary-psychological, scary-being-a-teen-is-just-plain-scary. Katniss for all she is the primary breadwinner in her family, is so very much a teenager.

I finally got around to listening to this book because it came up in a discussion at work the other week. We were talking about ordering books for English and some of my colleagues wanted suggestions for books. I suggested The Giver  and this lead to a discussion if our students could handle the themes (don’t let me get into this discussion ever again, I might actually pop a vein). The discussion climaxed in me pointing out that “kids these days” WANT to read dystopian novel. They LIKE dystopian novels. They can HANDLE dystopian novels. And I presented The Hunger Games as exhibit A. Since I hadn’t read it myself my colleague took over the baton at this point, and I realized that I had to read it. I am now even more convinced that this is a book we need to buy in for the school. A book we can definitely discuss in class (and since the first movie is out later this year we can actually also in years to come watch it, which was one of my colleagues requirements).

I think that our students will be able to identify with Katniss. Although we don’t have any Hunger Games here I think they can identify with her lack of power. Although our students have a choice in what they study in school, it is limited. We expect them to make choices but we don’t really give them any choices in their choices. They can definitely identify with the general level of powerlessness that Katniss feels. I think they can also identify with the theme of trust in the book. Who can you trust? Our students aren’t required to kill each other, but I’m sure some days, for them, high school feels much like the Arena. In addition Katniss has no idea who she is or who she wants to be. We are now two months into the term and I still have kids changing programs/classes almost daily. They just don’t know.

I have a love/hate relationship with Katniss. On the one hand she strikes me as incredibly admirable. She takes care of not just her sister but also others in the Seam. She is resourceful. At the same time she is a whinny teenager, and I spend my days with them Winking smile. Yes there are some mitigating circumstances. I would probably also whine a bit if I was sent to die. However, I also don’t like the way she treats Peeta. She is sooooo suspicious. She cannot believe that someone would love her. And that is sad. And it makes me wonder what life would be like in that society. Or actually in any society where you cannot trust anyone. And perhaps that is the scariest part of the book. The total lack of trust that the citizens of Panem have for one and another.

From a suspense perspective this book was very well written. I don’t know how many times I thought “just one more chapter” and “BUT YOU CAN’T END IT THERE I REALLY REALLY NEED TO SLEEP NOW!” Collins seems to leave every single chapter on an incredible cliffhanger.

soundbytesI think the “just one more chapter” feel was enhanced by listening to it in audio. Carolyn McCormick captures Katniss fear and frustration very well and she manages to leave the cliffhangers with an audible cue that keeps causing me to hold my breath. And disregard my bedtime. The voice takes some getting used to, but I think this is true for any book you read. However the voice was believable.

I highly highly highly recommend this book.


Copyright ©2011 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

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